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News article8 April 2021European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

How the pandemic might affect the world of work in 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in many ways, particularly at work. Work schedules, tools, environments and priorities have been impacted by the health crisis. Read on to find out why working in 2021 could be different.

How the pandemic might affect the world of work in 2021

More flexible working
One of the biggest changes caused by the pandemic was the sudden switch to working from home. Whether they were prepared or not, organisations needed to rely on remote working overnight. While working from home became the new normal, we also saw a change in working hours. At times parents were juggling childcare responsibilities and others were clocking in earlier or working later to accommodate a new routine. Advantages of flexible working, such as improved work-life balance and productivity, have been observed over the past year. While offices will re-open when it is safe, many organisations are expected to keep remote and flexible working options available to their staff, even if it is only for one or two days per week.

Continued online collaboration
The pandemic highlighted the importance of technology for remote working and online collaboration from the very beginning. This accelerated the uptake of different technologies in the workplace as organisations came to depend on them to continue their work in a new environment. Communications platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams were heavily relied on and have proven essential for efficient and effective communication between colleagues, departments and businesses around the world. These technologies have become increasingly popular and are likely to stick around in 2021.

Safer work environments
Health and safety in the workplace has never been more important. New and improved protocols such as regular hand washing, sanitising and general cleanliness have been crucial during the pandemic and are not likely to be forgotten in the near future. Improved ventilation, air quality and security could also be introduced to protect employees from future health risks. Many workplaces will be expected to provide a COVID-19 vaccine to their employees and may be able to use this to attract new workers.

Bigger focus on mental health
Recent discussions around mental health have been linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges that came with it. Employees around the world have had to manage childcare, work-life balance and different communication methods as they worked during the pandemic. With options to work remotely likely to stay, employers may need to work hard to ensure their employees are engaged with, to continue to build a healthy work culture and to make the wellbeing of staff a priority.

These are just four ways that the world of work may look different in 2021 as a result of the pandemic. If you are interested to learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on the world of work, see our How employers can address the gender imbalance created by COVID-19and Four job sectors in high demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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Microsoft Teams

How employers can address the gender imbalance created by COVID-19

Four job sectors in high demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic


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